The committee first met on Jan. 9 to consider planning concepts for the neighborhood around the 22nd Street Light Rail Station. The gathering brought together current and former public officials, businessmen and women, developers, planners, and leaders from the world of academia.
The “visioning” meeting launched a discussion about possible development goals, opportunities, and strategies for the future of the area bounded by 30th Street to the north, 17th Street to the south, Avenue C to the west, and Avenue F to the east.
The discussion was led by Dr. Colette Santasieri, director of strategic initiatives in the Office of Research and Development at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, and Dr. Arnold Bloch, senior project manager with the firm of Fitzgerald and Halliday Inc., based in Hartford, Conn., and with offices in Cherry Hill and New York City. Santasieri and Bloch participated through a grant received by the city from the American Planning Association, an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of communities. Bayonne was one of the New Jersey municipalities chosen to receive planning assistance with the help of volunteer professionals from within the state.
Santasieri said that the meeting offered participants the opportunity to exchange various perspectives on the assets and challenges facing the area. During the meeting, a consensus emerged that the area is very convenient and “walkable.” Participants expressed an interest in having a more visible and attractive 22nd Street Light Rail Station that would provide a more prominent, defining center for the neighborhood. The suggestions included possible landscaping improvements.
The group also called for a gradual redevelopment of Broadway, concentrating on improving two-block areas at a time. Participants discussed the possible use of banners, signs, and storefront designs to provide a branding, or identity, for the area. They also suggested improving the variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.
Traditionally, 22nd Street has been identified with Bayonne’s oil industry, a spokesman said. The group concluded that there is a need to move the corridor beyond its industrial past by developing a more modern look for the neighborhood.
The city’s assets have to be emphasized, according to Santasieri, who is preparing a vision plan for the area. The document will be presented to city officials in a few weeks.
“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this meeting,” said Smith. “The event produced useful and imaginative ideas that will help continue the progress Bayonne has made in recent years. We can look forward to an exciting future in the area around the 22nd Street Light Rail Station and in our entire community.”
In a related matter, the following week the City Council approved an administration proposal to investigate the possible redevelopment of a section of Broadway. That measure authorized the Bayonne Planning Board to conduct a study to review the area bounded by 497-519 Broadway, West 23rd Street, Del Monte Drive, and West 24th Street, which has several vacancies and for-rent buildings.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.